You know what makes me grumpy? All the Grumpy Old Men who appeared on the BBC TV series were younger than me, that's what makes me grumpy. Mutter, mutter....

The Grumpy Old Artist

The Grumpy Old Artist
Would YOU pose for this man???

Exhibition Poster

Exhibition Poster
Catterline Event, 2011

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Helford River, Cornwall

Oil Painting by Jim Tait

Oil Painting by Jim Tait
Full-riggers "Georg Stage" and "Danmark"

Other Recent Works

Other Recent Works
Fordyce Castle and Village

Hay's Dock, Lerwick

Shetland-model Boats at Burravoe, Yell

Tall Ships Seascape

The Tour Boat "Dunter III", with Gannets, off Noss

The "Karen Ann II" entering Fraserburgh harbour

Summer Evening, Boyndie Bay

1930s Lerwick Harbour

Johnshaven Harbour

"Seabourn Legend"

Greeting Cards!

Greeting Cards!
Now Available in Packs of Five or in Assorted Sets of Four

Sunday, 29 January 2012


Now and then I get a different kind of project to work on, and this is one of these.  At various stages of a long, varied (and mostly mis-spent!) career, I've done cats, dogs, horses (for the window of Lerwick bookies'), children and even the odd reclining female nude human figure.  Being an artist, one is expected to take on whatever genre prospective patrons might shove one's way, and be grateful for their confidence and the challenge to one's skills.  It makes a change from the usual seascape and landscape themes, for which I'm better known.  Hence the portrait of the brown labrador dog shown above, commissioned by a customer in the Aberdeen area.

I copied it fairly slavishly from the little snapshot given me by the client, as my knowledge of the anatomy and bearing of dogs is limited.  I don't even like the brutes - I've stood once too often in their produce, deposited, as it normally is, on street corners and outside peoples' gates.  I would not care to encounter, on a dark night, the hound of hell which regularly drops its considerable bundle outside the Burgh Road gate of the Gilbertson Park here in Lerwick.  I would, however, very much like to identify its owner, as the mutt is in flagrante delicto, so to speak.  The satisfaction I would derive from his/her wallet depletion, on having his/her collar felt by the authorities, would be immense.

Someone offered me a dog once - probably in the pub, which is the place where I've had most of my interesting offers.  I replied that I was more than capable of doing all my own fouling, howling, slavering and whining, as most of my friends will testify.  The offerer seemed somewhat put out by this reply, although as to which part of it perplexed her, I'm not absolutely certain.

I can get quite curmudgeonly about dog owners, who confuse slavish obedience with intelligence in their pets.  They'll demonstrate how "clever" their shitsus are, as they artlessly respond to commands to roll over, do somersaults, jump over obstacles or whatever the whim of the dictatorial poochmaster might be.

Give me a haughty, supercilious and indifferent pussy-cat any day.  You can shout, point, whistle and gesticulate at a cat all you like, and it will merely regard you coolly, as if you have gone completely mad, give a disdainful tail-flick and carry on with whatever it was doing before it was so rudely interrupted.  Now that's intelligence - coupled with style - for you!

I wish all you cool cats (and your pets!) a happy and successful week.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012


A happy new year!  If I made a resolution (which I haven't for at least a decade - they're a waste of time for weak-willed people like me!) it should have been to post more regularly to this blog.  I'll do my best, but my good intentions are too often thwarted by events happening around me.

While most of Britain was mopping up and compiling statistics for insurance claims after the new year storms, Shetland was basking in a relatively quiet spell of weather, with winds not reaching much more than gale force.  We, in the Northern Isles, took our pounding on Christmas Day, and we had it more or less all to ourselves.  From the Met office figures for the day, I gathered that there had been a mean wind speed of over 60mph from 2pm until 7pm, with gusts in excess of 90mph in Lerwick, and over 100mph in other locations in the islands.

We had our usual gathering at my mother's house, where her son, daughter, grand-daughter, grandson-in-law and two great-grandchildren (excellent entertainment, as always!) had assembled to attempt a demolition job, in true traditional style, on a turkey and trimmings, followed by sticky toffee pudding.  Fortunately, the cooking had been done, and we were in the process of washing up, before problems with the mains electricity supply began to manifest themselves.  Most of the west side of the island was plunged into darkness at around 5 o'clock.

By this time, we'd had the foresight to get the gas heater going in the kitchen, as the oil-fired central heating system (which is becoming rather elderly) had lost its pilot ignition due to the high winds.  Most of the other family members had left to get home around 4pm, leaving me with mother.  I found candles and an oil lamp, which provided enough light to guide us from room to room.  Just as I was about to see if I could get the gas ring in the scullery going to make us a cuppa, the mains power came back on long enough for me to get a pot of tea "trackit" on the electric cooker.  Then off went the power again!  It came on again at about 8pm, and this time it stayed on.  By then the wind had moderated to a mere storm force, and it abated quite rapidly from then on.  Around 9pm, I was able to coax the central heating back on to stay. 

My sister Mary, whose power was still off at Strand, Tingwall, came back to give me a lift back to Lerwick, as she had friends she wanted to visit there.  Coming over the top of Wormadale, it was rather eerie to see the areas, which still had mains power, glowing brightly, while other places were intensely blacked out.  We came upon a "Hydro" landrover, orange lights flashing, moving slowly down the hill, very close to the verge, obviously using detection equipment to locate mains ruptures.

It was a different kind of Christmas Day from the previous two (both white!), and I was glad I'd been there to help out at mother's.  I had a look around the place in quieter weather last Friday and, as far as I can make out, there was no structural damage, which surprised me a little, as a lesser storm, a few weeks ago, had caused quite a bit of minor mayhem.  All in all, I think I prefer the fierce winds to the snow of the 2009 and 2010 yuletides - the white stuff causes more problems in getting around.  The heroic "hydro" workers, who were spending their holiday out in the tempest, repairing faults, might not agree!

Sunday, 8 January 2012


This painting was commissioned by the great-grandson of the owner of the steam drifter "Stephens".  She is depicted leaving Fraserburgh harbour on a summer's evening, for another night's drift-net fishing for herring, during the boom years of this fishery in the 1930s.

At 87 feet in length, the steel-built vessel was built in 1911 by A Hall & Co., Aberdeen, as the Inverness-registered "Vale o' Moray".  A long and varied career followed, which saw her requisitioned for Admiralty service in two world wars, as well as having at least six different owners and three changes of name in "civilian" life, finally being scrapped in Norway in 1955.  The painting shows her in mid-career, when she was registered in Inverallochy.